Normally the Hesperia Star B-1 page is reserved for light news fare: perhaps a feature on a local figure, a cooking column, a sports spotlight, or the like. This week, however, the page is home to a story of much greater weight.

Hesperia Star reporter Beau Yarbrough, an "Army brat" who grew up on and near military bases around the globe, wrote a story (and designed the page) for B-1 that takes a up-close-and-personal look at the 759th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company out of Ft. Irwin. The EOD company is similar to the 703rd from Ft. Knox, the company under which Sgt. James K. Healy of Hesperia served. Sgt. Healy, a 2000 graduate of Hesperia High School, was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 7 when the vehicle he was riding hit an improvised explosive device.

Healy's funeral service was a private family affair, but Yarbrough and I believed more of Healy's heroic story needed to be told. While certainly our Hesperia readers would find it of interest, Yarbrough firmly believed that our fallen hero's 13-month-old son, Wyatt, deserved a keepsake that spoke of his late father's courage and sacrifice. That story, told through the eyes and words of some of the men in the 759th EOD has special meaning. "This story is for Wyatt," our reporter writes in his story's conclusion.

But what I find most striking about the "Brotherhood of the Bomb" story can be found in the first three paragraphs. While the war in Iraq and Afghanistan had increasingly become an unpopular endeavor, Healy simply followed his heart and did what he believed was right:
"Just a few months before his death in Afghanistan on January 7, Healy had reenlisted for what he had described as the most dangerous career in the Army."

As a part of the 703rd, it was his job to disable enemy explosive devices. But Healy didn't just get the job because he was willing to take the ultimate risk. He had to pass a rigorous training regimen that weeds out the wanna-bes from the real-deals. Healy was the real deal through and through.

And he didn't only have to be able to wear an 80-pound Kevlar bomb suit, he had to be smart, which was demonstrated by excelling at the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
Yarbrough quotes Spc. Ben Parker, one of those brave souls who puts it all on the line at the 759th:

"I don't think anybody here knew him," said Parker, "but it doesn't matter: He was our brother."

And Sgt. James K. Healy was one of Hesperia's finest - and the father of a precious boy, Wyatt.